ScotRail comes under public ownership

ScotRail came under public ownership on 1 April. The government-owned operator succeeds Abellio which previously operated the franchise.

It was announced in March 2021 that Abellio’s seven-year contract which started in April 2015 would not be renewed and that an arm’s length company called Scottish Rail Holdings owned and controlled by the Scottish Government would take over services. Services are delivered by the separate body ScotRail Trains.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said at Glasgow Queen Street station on the day of the handover: ‘This historic and momentous occasion marks the delivery of a key milestone in our ambitious Programme for Government to support a greener, fairer, more prosperous Scotland.

‘Everyone involved has worked extremely hard to deliver the smooth transition of ScotRail into public control and ownership. This new beginning creates a real opportunity to deliver a railway which is for the nation, and fully focused on being run for the benefit of its users – customers, staff and stakeholders, as opposed to shareholders.

‘Rail plays a key role in helping to meet our climate change targets and cut transport emissions. ScotRail passenger services are a central plank in our ambitious decarbonisation plans – backed by £5 billion over this Parliament - to support thriving, resilient and diverse communities.’

Scotland’s Railway MD Alex Hynes added: ‘This is very important day for Scotland’s Railway, and it is a significant moment as we make the transition to public ownership.
‘It’s an exciting new chapter and provides us with a fantastic opportunity to shape the future for rail travel in Scotland.

‘The last couple of years have accelerated the change needed in our industry as we seek to keep pace with the different ways our customers now travel. Our customers will remain at heart of Scotland’s Railway, as we look to modernise the way we work.’

Career railwayman Chris Gibb is Chief Executive of Scottish Rail Holdings, reporting to the SRH board. He also chairs the board of ScotRail Trains Ltd.